Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Proper Etiquette for Meal Interviews

Many of my job and internship interviews have taken place in an office for about an hour in the morning or afternoon, without a morsel of food in sight. Sometimes though, you may be asked to interview during a meal, so what should you do? Are there different rules of etiquette for meal interviews?

The first thing to consider is wardrobe. There isn’t too much of a difference in terms of clothing choices between a meal and an in-office interview. You do want to consider the general dress of the restaurant though- which should be readily available online. While you never want to spill, a general rule of thumb would be to go with more forgiving colors. A stark white shirt will show even a speck of food; and loose blouses for women are begging to brush up against food. Also, be sure to wear comfortable clothing, nothing too tight around the stomach.

When you arrive at the restaurant, wait for your entire party. It’s polite in any scenario, but especially if you’re waiting for your interviewer(s). You don’t want to give the impression that you’ve been waiting a long time, or have a misunderstanding on where you’re sitting. If your interviewer is running late go to the bar and order a water.

An article from Boston.com provides some great meal interview etiquette tips from a local etiquette expert. The article gives you some of the basics like silverware and plate arrangement, plus never drinking during an interview and chewing with your mouth closed. It also gives you some thought as to when to start eating and never arriving to a meal interview hungry.

Sometimes you won’t know the job interview includes a meal before you arrive, so not every etiquette tip will be applicable. If that is the case, follow as many of the tips as you can and definitely avoid anything messy or overeating. Those tips are less obvious if the meal is informal, but you are still trying to impress someone and potential employers want to be treated with as much respect as you would give dining at a more upscale establishment.

Meal interviews are less common than video interviews, but they also give you a chance to brush up on your ‘Miss Manners’ lessons. Learning proper etiquette is useful outside of job interviews as well. For some more tips on dining etiquette, The Art of Manliness offers some general tips for proper meal etiquette. (Don’t worry, most are gender neutral!) Good luck on your interview!

Have you ever taken part in a meal interview? How did it go? Let us know about it in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Edvvc

Jen Schiller

Jen works as a Marketing Project Manager for a restaurant, a kitchen assistant for cooking classes, helps with database management, does some freelance writing, and more. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland in Government & Politics in 2011. Currently, she resides in the Washington, D.C. area and is an avid sports fan.